<
>

Why 2019 is the NFL's year of the quarterback carousel

play
Top five moments from the NFL London Games (1:29)

Mike Carlson breaks down his top five moments from the NFL London Games. (1:29)

Being a backup quarterback in the NFL has never been better. We're just a third of the way into the 2019 season and 10 teams have given significant reps to quarterbacks who did not start in Week 1.

That number rises to 11 if you count Jacoby Brissett, who won the starting job after Andrew Luck's sudden retirement just weeks before the Colts' season opener, and 12 if you factor in Matt Barkley, who saw a fair amount of game time for the Bills against New England.

One thing is clear: This is the year of the backup.

It's a staggeringly high number so soon into proceedings. And while each second stringer has a different story to tell, some have the potential to permanently emerge from the shadows, whilst others are headed back to the sidelines carrying the clip board.

In Jacksonville, retro-looking rookie Gardner Minshew has emerged and is the most ready-made NFL cult hero since Rob Gronkowski smashed his way onto the scene. Since his meteoric rise to fame and the emergence of Minshew-mania, talk has been of the young Washington State alum hanging round and keeping the starting gig, leaving the Jags to deal original starter, 2017 Super Bowl champion Nick Foles, to a team desperately in need of quality.

It's a nice problem for Jags architects Tom Coughlin and Dave Caldwell to have. But Foles has still got to return from injury, and Gardner's form has dipped in the last couple of weeks. One thing is for sure, though: We haven't seen this many moustaches in Florida since 1982.

In New York, the end of the Eli era came sooner than expected, with No. 6 overall pick Daniel Jones getting his shot early on, starting in white hot form, whisking the blue side of the city into a frenzy and landing his own nickname "Danny Dimes" in the process.

Things have cooled somewhat in recent weeks -- three picks in a bruising loss to New England was a particular wakeup call -- and it's unclear as to whether the Giants have found a franchise quarterback yet, but it's been an interesting start for the rookie.

Across town, Sam Darnold getting knocked out by mononucleosis opened the door for not one, but two back-ups to shine, or in the case of Trevor Siemian and Luke Falk, blow their chances.

Poor Siemian hurt his ankle, ruling him out for the year, and Falk, who had never played in an NFL game before, got wheeled into the hot seat, failed to throw a touchdown, did throw three interceptions, lost all his games and was released last week. Thanks for the memories, Luke.

The Jets' AFC East counterparts Miami have been mixing it up between veteran blazer Ryan Fitzpatrick and new recruit Josh Rosen, the former first-rounder who arrived fresh from being unceremoniously dumped by Arizona, which is a little like getting cut from the cast of a bad TV sitcom.

They've benched Fitz, started Rosen, benched Rosen (which is like getting cut from the cast of a bad reality TV show) started Fitz again..... at this rate they'll be bringing Matt Moore back to see the season out. Will Rosen bounce to his third team in as many years? Quite possibly if Miami holds onto the 'worst team in football' spot and lands a shiny new quarterback in the draft, most likely Alabama's Tua Tagovailoa.

Over in Pittsburgh, they've been burning through QB's like they're the, err, New York Jets. Big Ben's season ending injury opened up a lane for another rookie, Mason Rudolph, but his "welcome to the NFL" moment knocked him out of action, enabling another rookie the duck hunting (yes, really) Devlin Hodges.

Rudolph is now out of concussion protocol and back in the starting lineup next weekend after their bye week. He could roll himself into a deal with a new team if he plays well, or sit tight as the heir apparent, given Roethlisberger has most likely a few more years max left in the tank. Or he could struggle, and Hodges could follow exactly the same trajectory.

Where Marcus Mariota will be next season is a fascinating question now that he has succumbed to Ryan Tannehill, who was announced as the Titans new starter on Tuesday. Mariota -- who's NFL career started so brightly and promised so much -- may well benefit from taking a (Ryan) leaf out of his successors playbook and landing a solid back up job next season behind a fragile starter. Chicago anyone?

The Bears surely have to be very much undecided about the 2017 No. 2 overall pick they thought would be the lynchpin of the next 10 years -- Mitchell Trubisky. His injury has enabled seasoned backup Chase Daniel to steady the ship, which for the most part he has, offering a clear alternative, showing to be a safer pair of hands with less upside Vs. the higher risk, higher reward option with Trubisky. But Daniel isn't the future, so if they don't roll with Mitchell, they'll be in the market for a new starter.

Similar issue in Carolina -- in so far as the injury to Cam Newton has enabled the Panthers to glimpse a different life, with the less dynamic, but more effective Kyle Allen, who is unbeaten this season. Can he repeat the trick with another four starts and then another? Consistency is the key difference between a backup and a starter. But will he get the chance with Cam due back soon?

Drew Brees will walk back into his gig in New Orleans, irrespective of what back up Teddy Bridgewater does in the next few weeks. But Teddy's risen his stock dramatically in Brees' absence, and the former first-rounder could have another go at starting somewhere else in the league before long.

Such is the power of opportunity in the NFL and there are few positions better placed to turn their careers around in just a few short weeks than the backup quarterback. And we may be seeing a few more before the season's out.